Lesotho–South Africa relations
Lesotho–South Africa relations refers to the current and historical bilateral relations of South Africa and Lesotho. Lesotho, which is completely surrounded by South Africa, depends on South Africa for most of its economic affairs. Both are member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Southern African Customs Union and the Southern African Development Community.
The area known as Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho (then Basutoland, a British protectorate) was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1871, but became separate again (as a crown colony) in 1884. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, there were moves by Britain to include Lesotho. The South African government pressed Britain for incorporation of the area into its territory. However, in October 1966, the Kingdom gained full independence. Despite formal independence, the white-controlled government in South Africa played a major role in its neighbour's economic and political affairs, including supporting the government of Lesotho Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan. In 1986, South Africa supported the coup d'état in Lesotho which brought Justin Lekhanya to power. In turn, Lekhanya's government expelled African National Congress members as well as technicians from North Korea, which led to significantly better relations between the two countries.
In September 1998, South Africa led a military intervention in Lesotho in the name of SADC, after post-election rioting and rumours of a possible coup. SADC troops withdrew from Lesotho in May of the following year.
South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994. Since then, South Africa's influence in Lesotho has grown. It is involved with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, an ongoing water supply and hydro-power project. In August 2010, South African President Jacob Zuma led a group of investors and politicians to Lesotho, where they discussed bilateral cooperation as well as regional political developments. While in Lesotho in 2010, Zuma visited the Katse Dam and addressed a joint session of the Parliament of Lesotho.
Due to Lesotho's economic and geographical relationship with South Africa, some activists within Lesotho have urged the country to accept annexation. Lesotho (then Basutoland, a British protectorate) was annexed to the Cape Colony in 1871, but became separated again (as a crown colony) in 1884. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, there were moves by Britain to include Lesotho, but these were rejected by the people.
In 2010, trade unionist Vuyani Tyhali started a petition in support of annexation, saying: "We have 30,000 signatures. Lesotho is not just landlocked – it is South Africa-locked. We were a labour reserve for apartheid South Africa. There is no reason for us to exist any longer as a nation with its own currency and army". Ntate Manyanye, a charity director, cited the AIDS epidemic as a reason why Lesotho could no longer survive as an independent country: "Lesotho is fighting for survival. We have a population of about 1.9 million but there may be as many as 400,000 AIDS orphans among us. Life expectancy has fallen to 34. We are desperate".
- South African Country Study Lesotho relations
- Zuma to lead delegation to Lesotho SouthAfrica.info, 10 August 2010
- "Lesotho's people plead with South Africa to annex their troubled country". The Guardian (London). 6 June 2010.
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